Ever since news dropped that Kelenna Azubuike signed a 3 year/ $9 million offer sheet with the Clippers, I'm not sure how I feel about whether or not we should match the offer or let him walk. I don't think it's a clear cut decision either way because there are so many variables to juggle.
For a little history, Kaz joined the team 2 years ago as Mullin plucked him mid-season from the D-League. With injuries to JRich and Boom, Kaz wound up getting solid minutes showing he had a nice stroke and could fill minutes when the starterse needed a rest. This past year, he averaged 21 minutes in 81 games, starting in 17 of them. He's got a decent ability to score and rebounds well for a guard, but his defense on the perimeter is suspect. He started the year playing around 30 minutes per game, fell out of favor with Nellie in December and January, and then in the final 2 months found a permanent spot in the rotation.
Hit the jump for some thoughts. Why a bench player deserves so much attention? I have no idea. Maybe it's the boring offseason and there's nothing else to talk about. Maybe people like his attitude and thus a fan favorite. Or maybe we all care that deeply about our Dubs.
Also, check out the Fan Post, Azubuike signs with Clips
Why I Wouldn't Match
- Where are his minutes going to come from? Assuming Maggette, Monta, and Jax all play at least 38 minutes per game, that leaves only 30 total minutes at the PG, SG, and SF positions. Nellie has verbally committed to playing Marco more minutes to let him develop. Nellie's committment may be just Nellie talking, but if it's true, Marco gets at least 10 minutes per game. So that total minutes number goes to 20. The Warriors need to pick up a backup PG, so let's give him 7 minutes per night. Okay so we're down to 13 minutes at one of the 3 spots. If Anthony Randolph gets any type of minutes, that'll eat into those minutes as well so we're not looking at many minutes for Kaz if Monta, Jax or Maggette is relied upon more than my estimates.
- I feel like Mullin and Nelson can find another D-League guy or free agent to fill those minutes. What the Warriors could do is go find a guy who can give them better perimeter defense and sacrifice a little of the scoring and rebounding that Kelenna gives them. Bench guys at the small forward and shooting guard positions seem to be a dime a dozen so I can't imagine that it's too difficult to replace what Kelenna does. Perhaps we can get a guy for a much cheaper price and save the extra money for another deal. Or at least keep Chris Cohan a little richer because that's what really matters.
- Is this going to block the development of Anthony Randolph? For year 1 of the contract it won't. But next year and the year after, Kelenna and Randolph are both going to want minutes. Is it worth it to keep Kelenna around for 2 extra years if Randolph is going to take his minutes anyways? Seems like a waste of cap space each year.
Why I Would Match
- Nellie says he's going to give Marco minutes. He also said Troy Murphy could be an All-Star and Mike Dunleavy was going to have his best season ever. Basically, I wouldn't bank on Marco getting minutes or being that good. I think there's a 50/50 chance that Marco does not get many minutes and without an adequate replacement, you'll see Monta, Jax, and Maggette taking on an increased load. As we saw last year, some of these older players just can't last an entire season playing those many minutes at a high level. Depth is needed. Did I mention that I'm not too high on Marco?
- Anthony Randolph looked good in 1 game so far in the summer league. He's no guarantee to pan out and become a decent player. There was a reason he dropped to the Warriors at 14. He may be talented, but may never realize that talent either. Kelenna seems to be more of a known quantity. He'll never break out and be a star, but you can count on him to be a solid role player for 15 minutes a night. And who knows, he just might develop a little himself. Hopefully he works on that poor perimeter defense.
- At $3 million per year, I'd say it's a good deal if he's able to play the number of minutes he did last year. By all indications, with Marco being suspect, Randolph most likely never going to see the floor, Kaz's minutes could go up. So, at that price I'll take a bench player who at 15-20 minutes per game who can score and rebound.
After writing this, I think I've convinced myself of which way to go.
Even if Marco and Randolph pan out, Kaz will continue to be a useful bench player.